The Fakava family (from left), Veronika, Senita, Aloma and
Boi, back at their family home, which was badly damaged by
fire on Wednesday night, to salvage their few surviving
belongings. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
The smell of smoke hung in the warm breeze on Somerville
St, Dunedin, as Aloma Fakava remembered a dream that foretold
her family's tragedy.
"In Tonga, we have this belief ... that, like a fantail
coming into your house, some things warn you of danger," she
said yesterday, as family and friends loaded belongings on to
"Not long ago, [a friend] had a dream that this happened in
Tonga, that there was a fire, and that it was put out by New
"It was strong enough to be remembered and talked about. We
did not think that it could turn into something like this."
Miss Fakava (19) was looking up at the charred remains of the
upper storey of her five-bedroom family home, where
investigators worked through the embers in the lounge and
The fire started in the area of the couch and damaged most of
the top storey. The ground floor was water damaged.
The family lost many things - photographs, keepsakes,
furniture - but Miss Fakava said she felt lucky to have
survived with her cousin, her cousin's child, and her dog.
Miss Fakava was in her parents' room when the fire started
about 7.45pm on Wednesday. She was roused by her cousin, Dina
Vakuti, yelling from the lounge.
Flames were leaping from the couch to the curtains.
"I panicked. I grabbed pots of water. I tried to see if the
hose would reach, but I realised we couldn't do anything. We
had to get out."
The flames danced in the window as she ran back to the house
to let out her dog, Yolzah, before she ran to a neighbour to